Incumbent Fresno County Auditor-Controller Oscar J. Garcia continues to lose campaign support after the revelation that he once pleaded no contest in a child molestation case.
But Garcia says he’s thankful for those who are sticking with him.
As first reported by The Fresno Bee, Garcia pleaded no contest in 2001 for PC 647.6(A), which reads in part “[a] person who annoys or molests any child under 18 years … motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children.” A judge dismissed the charge a year later as part of a plea agreement for staying out of trouble.
“My opponent and his supporters have decided to take this election to the mud because they wish to divert your attention away from his lack of governmental and accounting experience to do the job.”—Oscar Garcia
Supervisors Sal Quintero and Andreas Borgeas withdrew support. So did the Fresno County Democratic Party and Fresno-Madera-Tulare-Kings Central Labor Council.
“After careful evaluation of the facts that have recently surfaced regarding Oscar Garcia, I have decided to withdraw the use of my name and my endorsement in the race for auditor-controller/treasurer-tax collector. At this time, I will remain neutral,” Quintero said a news release.
Fresno County Democratic Party chairman Michael Evans said his group withdrew because “information that surfaced during the past few weeks was not disclosed to us prior to the original endorsement process.”
However, the remaining supervisors GV Wire spoke with — Brian Pacheco, Buddy Mendes, and Nathan Magsig — remain resolute in backing Garcia.
Supervisors unanimously appointed Garcia to the vacant auditor-controller/treasurer-tax collector position in 2016. He is running for a full term against David Keyes.
While Garcia lost endorsements, he tells GV Wire, he’s happy for what he still has, especially the support of his wife.
“I am honored to continue to have the support of Supervisors Pacheco, Mendes, and Magsig,” Garcia said. “I am disappointed to hear about the Democrats’ decision. My opponent and his supporters have decided to take this election to the mud because they wish to divert your attention away from his lack of governmental and accounting experience to do the job.”
Keyes, meanwhile, remained low key about Garcia’s criminal record.
“What support he has, is between him and his endorsers,” Keyes said. “I have no way of knowing (how this will affect the election). I guess we’ll find out Nov. 6.”
Mendes Stands By Garcia
“I trust him with my grandchildren. But, we are not hiring him as a babysitter.”—Supervisor Buddy Mendes
Mendes has supported Garcia with his endorsement and campaign contributions (more than $22,000). He emphatically stands by the candidate.
“There is no way I’m not going to support Oscar. He is cleaning up the department. It was in bad shape. I don’t want to go back to the deal where (finances) are a guessing game. We have a good set of books. I want to keep it that way,” Mendes said.
Mendes noted that Garcia’s plea has been expunged and that Garcia’s wife is standing by him.
“I trust him with my grandchildren. But, we are not hiring him as a babysitter.”
Mendes Criticizes Keyes, Dictos, Quintero
Mendes also had tough words for Keyes.
“Keyes is not qualified. He’s never worked in government accounting. I’m calling him on it,” Mendes said. He also criticized one of Keyes’ top supporters, Fresno County Assessor Paul Dictos, calling him a “poor manager.”
Dictos defended himself.
“I am very sorry to hear that Supervisor Mendes feels that way about the assessor. … However, numbers don’t lie. The understaffed, underpaid but conscientious staff of the assessor witnessed an unprecedented 42% increase in the county’s tax roll from 2011 to 2018, and scored a touchdown by bringing the 2018-19 tax roll to a record $81 billion strong,” Dictos said in a statement.
“As a result, Fresno County will see an inflow of $810,000,000 to be shared by our schools, police, sheriff, fire, all cities, and special districts in the county. And this is good news for our children and families, and the 11,000 employees and retirees of Fresno County.”
As far as Quintero’s public withdrawal, Mendes said, “Quintero is just a politician. Politicians run from hard issues. The hard issue is, I want a clean set of books.”
Quintero responded, “He’s entitled to his opinion. The facts are the facts. That’s why I pulled my endorsement. I’m not the only one.”
Magsig Remains a Backer, Too
Supervisor Nathan Magsig says he still supports Garcia. He’s contributed $5,000 to Garcia’s campaign.
“If Oscar’s wife and Oscar’s family can stand by him, I can stand by him too. My support is specifically tied to the work he’s done over the last two years. That work has been stellar,” Magsig said. “He’s providing ideas and suggestions on how we can operate more efficiently. His service has been incredibly valuable.”
[Update, 10/09/18: this story now includes the Central Labor Council rescinding its endorsement of Garcia.]